Understanding gender and cybersecurity

This project aims to improve understanding on how gender and other intersecting identities affect and are affected by cyber threats, and how improved governance can help mitigate harmful gendered impacts.

Project background:

Many countries have begun to make important commitments to gender equality in their domestic and international cyber strategies and policies.

Often these commitments recognize that cybersecurity mirrors and amplifies gender and social inequalities found and experienced in the offline world. By recognizing these challenges in government strategies and communiques, these documents have helped validate them.

However, there are knowledge gaps about why these challenges exist and how they manifest themselves, both technologically and socially. These gaps limit appropriate and targeted whole-of-society responses that can guarantee the benefits of cyberspace are shared equitably among all.

Gender transformative approaches to any policy problem require a multi-stakeholder, whole-of-society approach that meaningfully considers perspectives from policymakers, the technical community, practitioners, civil society and beyond. Understanding the gendered experiences of and in cyberspace and how they are formed, amplified and weaponized is a vital foundational step to evidence-based, adaptive and consultative transformation of approaches.

Funded by the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, this project will encourage sustained discussion on gender and cybersecurity that can ultimately support more inclusive cyber policies. This project will consist of a research phase and a capacity building phase.

Research phase

The research phase of this project will produce four briefing papers on the following topics:

  1. How do cybersecurity priorities and needs differ based on gender?
  2. How does gender influence perceptions and experiences of cybersecurity?
  3. How do cybersecurity technologies/practices prevent or enable gendered harms?
  4. How can we design cybersecurity that is adaptive and resilient to gendered threats?

Capacity building phase

The capacity-building phase will consist of two trainings for:

  1. Cybersecurity stakeholders: including governments, the private sector, and civil society – to improve and increase understanding of gendered cybersecurity priorities and needs, and different gendered perceptions and experiences of cybersecurity.
  2. Cybersecurity stakeholders in the private sector:  including in technology design, implementation and operation – to identify aspects of current cybersecurity technologies and practices that are linked to gendered harms, and how to alter those practices to build gender-transformative cybersecurity.

Project aims:

By generating evidence on how a better understanding of gender in the context of cybersecurity can help ensure a safe and beneficial digital future for all, this project will:

  • increase knowledge on how gender and other intersecting identities affect and are affected by cyber threats and how governance can help mitigate these harmful gendered impacts and experiences; and
  • equip a wide group of cybersecurity stakeholders with the tools and knowledge necessary to pilot innovative approaches to gender-transformative cybersecurity programming.